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The Song and the Silence : A Story about Family, Race, and What Was Revealed in a Small Town in the Mississippi Delta While Searching for Booker Wright

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In this &quot;beautiful, evocative&quot; ( <i>Booklist</i>, starred review) memoir, Yvette Johnson travels to the Mississippi Delta to uncover the moving, true story of her late grandfather Booker Wright, whose extraordinary act of courage would change his and, later, her life forever. <p></p>&quot;Have to keep that smile,&quot; Booker Wright said in the 1966 NBC documentary <i>Mississippi: A Self-Portrait</i>. At the time, Wright was a waiter in a &quot;whites only&quot; restaurant and a local business owner who would become an unwitting icon of the Civil Rights Movement. For he did the unthinkable: speaking in front of a national audience, he described what daily life was truly like for black people of Greenwood, Mississippi. <p></p> Four decades later, Yvette Johnson, Wright's granddaughter, found footage of the controversial documentary. No one in her family knew of his television appearance. Even more curious for Johnson was that for most of her life she'd barely heard mention of her grandfather's name. <p></p> Born a year after Wright's death and raised in a wealthy San Diego neighborhood, Johnson admits she never had to confront race in the way Southern blacks did in the 1960s. Compelled to learn more about her roots, she travels back to Greenwood, Mississippi, a beautiful Delta town steeped in secrets and a scarred past, to interview family members about the real Booker Wright. As she uncovers her grandfather's compelling and ultimately tragic story, she also confronts her own conflicted feelings surrounding race, family, and forgiveness. <p></p> &quot;With profound insight and unwavering compassion, Johnson weaves an unforgettable story&quot; ( <i>Publishers Weekly</i>, starred review) about her journey in pursuit of her family's past--and ultimately finding a hopeful vision of the future for us all.

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In this "beautiful, evocative" ( Booklist, starred review) memoir, Yvette Johnson travels to the Mississippi Delta to uncover the moving, true story of her late grandfather Booker Wright, whose extraordinary act of courage would change his and, later, her life forever.

"Have to keep that smile," Booker Wright said in the 1966 NBC documentary Mississippi: A Self-Portrait. At the time, Wright was a waiter in a "whites only" restaurant and a local business owner who would become an unwitting icon of the Civil Rights Movement. For he did the unthinkable: speaking in front of a national audience, he described what daily life was truly like for black people of Greenwood, Mississippi.

Four decades later, Yvette Johnson, Wright's granddaughter, found footage of the controversial documentary. No one in her family knew of his television appearance. Even more curious for Johnson was that for most of her life she'd barely heard mention of her grandfather's name.

Born a year after Wright's death and raised in a wealthy San Diego neighborhood, Johnson admits she never had to confront race in the way Southern blacks did in the 1960s. Compelled to learn more about her roots, she travels back to Greenwood, Mississippi, a beautiful Delta town steeped in secrets and a scarred past, to interview family members about the real Booker Wright. As she uncovers her grandfather's compelling and ultimately tragic story, she also confronts her own conflicted feelings surrounding race, family, and forgiveness.

"With profound insight and unwavering compassion, Johnson weaves an unforgettable story" ( Publishers Weekly, starred review) about her journey in pursuit of her family's past--and ultimately finding a hopeful vision of the future for us all. In this “beautiful, evocative” ( Booklist, starred review) memoir, Yvette Johnson travels to the Mississippi Delta to uncover the moving, true story of her late grandfather Booker Wright, whose extraordinary act of courage would change his and, later, her life forever.

“Have to keep that smile,” Booker Wright said in the 1966 NBC documentary Mississippi: A Self-Portrait. At the time, Wright was a waiter in a “whites only” restaurant and a local business owner who would become an unwitting icon of the Civil Rights Movement. For he did the unthinkable: speaking in front of a national audience, he described what daily life was truly like for black people of Greenwood, Mississippi.

Four decades later, Yvette Johnson, Wright’s granddaughter, found footage of the controversial documentary. No one in her family knew of his television appearance. Even more curious for Johnson was that for most of her life she’d barely heard mention of her grandfather’s name.

Born a year after Wright’s death and raised in a wealthy San Diego neighborhood, Johnson admits she never had to confront race in the way Southern blacks did in the 1960s. Compelled to learn more about her roots, she travels back to Greenwood, Mississippi, a beautiful Delta town steeped in secrets and a scarred past, to interview family members about the real Booker Wright. As she uncovers her grandfather’s compelling and ultimately tragic story, she also confronts her own conflicted feelings surrounding race, family, and forgiveness.

“With profound insight and unwavering compassion, Johnson weaves an unforgettable story” ( Publishers Weekly, starred review) about her journey in pursuit of her family’s past—and ultimately finding a hopeful vision of the future for us all.

Specifications

Publisher
Atria Books
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
336
Author
Yvette Johnson
ISBN-13
9781476754956
Publication Date
January, 2018
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.38 x 5.50 x 1.00 Inches
ISBN-10
1476754950

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This is one of the bet...

This is one of the better books I have read that mixes a personal memoir with a foray into past history. The author did a fantastic job blending the two into each other, a cohesive and moving story about a young woman trying to come to terms with her blackness and learning about the grandfather she never knew. She was raised in San Diego, her father played for the Chargers, a privileged upbringing as far as money, but she never felt loved by her mother and never realized nor understood the barriers of her race. The Mississippi Delta, the town of Greenwood, where her mother and father came from, where her grandfather was one of the few blacks that not only had money but owned his own restaurant called Booker's Place. He was also a waiter at Luscos, a preeminent restaurant in the Jim Crow south. Does an amazing job describing the genesis of the Delta and what life was like for the blacks who resided there. Some of this is very difficult to read, even after the civil Rights movement things were not any better, in fact trying to shove these new laws down the throats of many resistant whites made things even more difficult. But, as she finds out when she travels down there searching for her roots, information about her grandfather, things were not clear cut, she found some goodness even in those she felt were evil, or acted in evil ways. The writing is very good and I applaud the author in what I felt was some very fine and fair story telling, her trying to understand both sides of the movement. Not being southern myself I learned much from this book, and from many different viewpoints. The book mentions a documentary that her grandfather was in that opened the floodgates, making real what blacks actually thought of how they were treated and bringing the problems in this town into the light. Need to see if I can find that anywhere.

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Electrode, Comp-f2c01a5c-f9e7-4140-b6fc-8d7901714b79, DC-scus-prod-a2, ENV-prod-a, PROF-PROD, VER-30.0.3-ebf-2, SHA-5edb3bf8a7964aa702e772b355582b29d2bde4c7, CID-91499b0a-012-16fb7529cb09f6, Generated: Sat, 18 Jan 2020 06:24:02 GMT